adding handfuls of happiness to the world – embracing diversity

Posted on 12 May 2017

adding handfuls of happiness to the world – embracing diversity

One of the beautiful things about our little ones is that colour, cultural differences and even language usually don’t bother them. Kids are very observant so they do notice the differences, but the differences don’t phase them. We need to encourage them to keep this wonderful outlook. Encourage them to celebrate the differences that makes each one of us unique but in the same breath, to help them realise that we are all the same. We are all human. This will not only have a lasting impression on their own life but will contribute to the health of society as well.

I started off the lesson reading the beautiful poem by Shane DeRolf: The Crayon Box That Talked. This poem is a super way to introduce a celebration of all races to young children. A crayon box is something that they can all identify with and the poem weaves a lovely, simple story showing that by all colours working together, we can achieve so much more:
While walking in a toy store, the day before today I overheard a crayon box with many things to say. “I don’t like red,” said yellow.
And Green said, “Nor do I. And no one here like orange, but no one knows just why.”
“We are a box of crayons that doesn’t get along,” said Blue to all the others, “Something here is wrong.”

Well I bought that box of crayons and took it home with me. And laid out all the crayons so the crayons so the crayons could all see—
They watched me as I colored—with Red and Blue and Green And Black and White and Orange, and every color in between.
They watched as Green became the grass and Blue became the sky. The Yellow sun was shining bright—on White clouds drifting by.
Colors changing as they touched, becoming something new. They watched me as I colored, they watched ’til I was through.

And when I’d finally finished, I began to walk away. And as I did the crayon box had something more to say…
“I do like Red,” said Yellow.
And Green said, “So do I. And Blue, you were terrific so high up in the sky.”
“We are a box of crayons, each one of us unique, but when we get together, the picture is complete.”

We then moved on to a really fun egg experiment. The kids were captivated! We explored the similarities and differences between two eggs – one white shelled and one brown shelled. The only difference was their colour but they had many similarities. I asked the children whether the eggs were possibly different inside. Perhaps one had a white yolk and the other a brown yolk? But most children were adamant that the yolks would be exactly the same – a mixture of yellow and orange. The moment of truth then arrived where we cracked the eggs and sure enough, they were exactly the same inside!

I then showed the children a lovely artistic view of the inside of the human body to emphasize that, just like the eggs, we can be different on the outside but we are all exactly the same inside. We may have different hair (blonde/dark, curly/straight, short/long), different body size (big / small), different skin colour, different coloured eyes or speak different languages, but on the inside, we are all the same. We are all human beings with a brain, a heart that beats, with emotions of laughter, joy, sadness and love. We are all different but we are all the same.

The egg experiment has been one of my favourite exercises to date. I felt the kids really grasped what I was trying to express and they always love something a bit different. I did get asked by one little girl whether we could quickly whisk up the eggs and make some pancakes 😊

For our yoga journey this week, we followed the book How many ways can you say hello? by Refiloe Moahloli. A wonderfully written South African book about how to say hello in our 11 official languages. We joined the main character, Sara, on a journey to find out how many ways one can say hello. She traveled across South Africa in a hot air balloon so we started with some breath work to blow up our beautiful balloons to join her. We moved into tree pose while chatting to Brenda from Venda. Then we moved into warrior 2 to surf with Frans who spoke Afrikaans. It was an easy transition into warrior 1 (our pineapple pose) while we conversed with Nomsa who spoke Xhosa. We did some L-sitting while moving our arms next to our bodies in circles like wheels of a rickshaw while we chatted to Sazi (Swati) and Lulu (Zulu). Then we moved into boat pose to mimic Tonga (Tsonga) and Anele (Ndebele) on their raft. The kids held the boat pose exceptionally well! Some super strong core muscles in the group. And finally, we ended the sequence with a group flower pose to celebrate Fedi (Pedi), Nana (Tswana) and Itu (Soto) who were picking proteas.

This week for the guided visualisation we listened to a wonderful track called “Star of Peace” from the Relax Kids Shining Stars CD. A great track about how we are all little stars of peace twinkling in the night sky.

I didn’t manage to do artwork with all the classes this week because of lots of wonderful discussion that was happening. But in the classes that do artwork, I painted each child’s hand a different colour. I then asked the kids to shake hands with anyone in the room that they wanted to. After they had finished shaking hands, they made a hand print on a blank page. Look at the beauty of the rainbow of colours mixed together in a hand print!

Embracing diversity – definitely a way to add handfuls of happiness to the world!